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Coach Neil Macmillan watches drills during field hockey practice Wednesday. The Bobcats play at Robert Morris today. (Maddie Meyer | Staff Photographer)

Field Hockey: Foreign turf brings new concerns for undefeated Bobcats

Ohio has won six games this year, but none of those wins has come under the circumstances the team will face today at Robert Morris.

When the undefeated Bobcats take the field against the Colonials, it will be the first time this season they will compete on field turf.

Ohio is used to the Astroturf at Pruitt Field for home games. Coach Neil Macmillan said the surface is what most top-tier programs use.

“It’s a really big deal because the key thing is the ball roll,” Macmillan said. “On Astroturf, the ball just flies around, especially when we whack it. There’s little to no resistance and friction.”

That contrasts with field turf, a grass-like material that makes it harder to move the ball. The foreign surface could make play tricky for the Bobcats, who have relied on movement and passing to pick up 22 assists this season.

Sophomore Jessica Jue has tallied six assists this year, leading the team in that category. She said the field turf would likely affect the team’s execution on short corners. But she does not anticipate problems in the passing game.

“We have been working on staying connected,” Jue said. “We’ve been really supporting each other to find those outlet passes.”

To get used to the different surface, Ohio has spent time this week practicing at Peden Stadium, which has a field similar to the one at Robert Morris.

Fortunately for the Bobcats, the first game on field turf will come against a 2-4 Colonials team that was recently blown out at home by Lock Haven.

“They’re a young team,” Jue said. “We should be able to beat them with our experience.”

Ohio’s resumé to this point includes two wins against top-10 teams and a No. 15 national ranking. The Bobcats are the only Mid-American Conference team ranked in the top 20.

The game against Robert Morris will begin at 1 p.m. today. The Bobcats will play Indiana at noon Sunday at Pruitt Field.

The Hoosiers recently fell out of the top 20 following losses at Stanford and California. They improved their record to 5-2 with a victory against UC Davis yesterday.

Indiana has yet to win a road game this season.

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